INDIAN MUTINY. NADAR SINGH, Raja of Ballabhgarh and Indian hero. Letter in addressed to Lord Ellenborough, 10 September, 1857
Lot 446
INDIAN MUTINY. NADAR SINGH, Raja of Ballabhgarh and Indian hero. Letter in addressed to Lord Ellenborough, 10 September, 1857
Sold for £2,500 (US$ 3,923) inc. premium

Lot Details
INDIAN MUTINY
NADAR SINGH, Raja of Ballabhgarh. Letter in the hand of an English secretary, addressed to Lord Ellenborough, the text within an elaborate latticed gold framing, signed as rajah of "independent Ballabhgarh" and with black seal, manuscript on paper, 3 pages, 4to, 10 September, [1857]

Footnotes

  • An important, if curious, letter written just four days before the British army stormed Delhi, by a now revered Indian hero of the first war of independence. Jat Nahar Singh, presumably realising what was to come, writes to Lord Ellenborough in London expressing his desire to enter the 'service' of the East India Company, and seeking Ellenborough's patronage and protection. Lord Ellenborough had been governor-general of India between 1842-1844, and Nahar Singh appears to have met him, presumably when he was about twenty years old.

    The letter opens with a reference to a purported earlier one sent to Lord Ellenborough on 11 July 1857, in which Nadar Singh offered "to come into your service", and now with the news that the revolt was still in progress with the "revolted troops" now assembled at Delhi, although thousands of others have been "put to death by the valorus and faithful army of the Company". Those that came from Kunuch had been defeated at Allipore, and those from Nasurabad at Delhi, while those from Baraily "joined the faithful army of Company and did not oppose them". Nadir Singh says he has also offered his services to the Governor General and Lieutenant Governor, but has received no reply as yet. Nethertheless he has guarded the route from Delhi to Puvule so that no one has been plundered and spent a "great deal of my own money in the administrations of the villages that do not belong to my state merely for the interest of the Company". He appears to fear that his own position may not be understood and that "My earnest desire is to come into your services to explain many unspeakable matters and unsupportable calamities into which India is involved and to spend the remainder of my life into your service". As a previous letter from Ellenborough to Nadir Singh permitting him to come into Ellenborugh's service had been "consumed by the revolted troops among my other goods and English papers at Delhi", he requests another.

    Nadir Singh's modern reputation has him as the right-hand man of Bahadur Shah II, pivotal to the defence of Delhi, and an active belligerent on the side of the mutineers. If he thought the British before Delhi were unaware of the choice he had made, he was mistaken, but this seems unlikely. He could not possibly have thought that this letter could reach England and a reply received before the fall of Delhi, and it was either drafted in all seriousness in the hope he would survive until a favourable reply was received (without Ellenborough discovering the truth of his position), or the letter was a piece of mischief designed to fall into the hands of the British, or be handed to them by Nadir Singh when captured. Nadir Singh, as a former friend of the British chose to aid the Mughal Emperor by encouraging other rulers to join him and using his own troops to defend Delhi. As such his fate could never really have been in doubt. He was captured days after the fall of the city (14 September), but not hanged there until 21 April 1858.
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